Rangoon Mayor Hla Myint says there are some 38,000 squatter homes within the city boundaries these days – and most belong to economic migrants from the country and other towns in Burma.
“According to the data we’ve compiled, there are around 38,000 squatter homes in the 33 townships within Rangoon municipality,” he said.
“We believe that a swift and effective way to deal with the situation is to introduce fair-cost housing projects and allow the squatters to buy flats on long-term and short-term mortgages rather than just leasing the land to them.”
He said the city administration does not have enough land to lease to all the squatters and that the divisional authorities will seek advice from the union government to solve the problem.
Kyaw Myo, Rangoon Division MP representing Hlaing Tharyar Township, urged the local government to focus on the issue of homelessness before the end of its term.
“Regardless of how many large urban construction projects are planned, if we do not deal with housing at a grassroots level, and provide homes for those who do not have them, then we cannot claim to live in a developed society,” said Kyaw Myo.
In February 2013, around 1,000 squatter homes appeared in Hlaing Tharyar’s 5th ward overnight, leading to a confrontation between squatters and local authorities who attempted to remove them.
Similar confrontations took place on 14 January when security forces were sent in to remove squatters from setting up shelters on the alluvial islands located under the Pan Hlaing Bridge.